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Kid-Friendly Ski Resorts in BC

Canada, ROAM By January 15, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Kid friendly Ski Resorts in BCPicking the perfect ski resort for families in British Columbia is tough – because there are so many incredible options! I am a pretty avid skier and haul the kids everywhere in order to truly test the slopes and activities. Over the past year we have traveled the province to learn about the kid-friendly ski resorts in BC. I think you’ll love the options!

Big White Resort

Near Kelowna, Big White has more powder stashes that I’ve ever seen.  A fab place for intermediate skiiers and boarders, there are wide glades and fast lifts. The Village Centre Mall -“VCM” to locals – is the main lodge which houses equipment rentals, Beano’s awesome coffee, ticket sales and the ski school. Everywhere you look throughout the resort there are family activities, play spaces off runs and instructors gently guiding kids. Last year, Big White introduced the Flaik system to track every child in the moment via GPS. One staff member in the ski school watches the lighted map that indicates if any child it too far away from their instructor. That’s peace of mind for parents!! During the holidays kids can visit with Santa, in March there’s a festival to ‘Cruze the Blues’, encouraging visitors to check out intermediate runs over the entire hill and receive prizes. In my experience the music and vibe was addictive and Big White felt like a true community for young and old.

Kids Pizza Making BullwheelThe food on the mountain is exquisite. From the famous breakfast egg benedict at the Sante Grille to a higher-end gourmet and wine experience at Six Degrees, Okanagan wines and an internationally inspired menu may have you thinking you are on a continent other than North America. For lunch we loved the kid-friendly, healthy selections at the Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar all lovingly prepared by owner Jude Brunt. In the evening and for apres you should check out The Bullwheel. Chef Christopher Thomas has worked with Cirque Du Soleil and his talents can be tasted in every course. (He doesn’t do trapeze though). The pizza making for kids activity was a huge hit with the little ones.

Ice Climbing Tower Big WhiteThe only one in British Columbia, the ice climbing tower is not to be missed. At a height of 60 feet, it is made with four telephone poles doused in water. Crampons on your boots and clipped into a bulay system, the experience is completely safe (but still got my blood rushing and having me feel like a Bond girl). In the evening, family activities abound in the Moose Lounge in Happy Valley Lodge at the bottom of a short gondola ride. A bonfire melts marshmallows as you sip hot chocolate by the outdoor skating rink and inside there are games, music and Kettle Valley Steakhouse restaurant which you must not miss.

Stonebridge Executive LodgeWebsite:
Stay: Stonebridge Executive Lodge
Eat: Six Degrees, Kettle Valley Steakhouse
Apres: The Bullwheel
Climb: The Ice Tower
Relax: Beyond Wrapture Spa

Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks Resort ViewsThirty minutes north of Kamloops, Sun Peaks Resort is modelled on an Austrian village and you can ski right through the centre to hit the Rocky Mountain chocolate factory, the Delta for apres or Oya for sushi. Made up of three distinct mountains, you can actually follow the sun to ski in a 360 circle throughout the day. The umbrella cafe at the base of Mt. Morrisey is a fun place to warm up, and at the top of Sunburst chair stands a restaurant – you can smell the fresh cinnamon buns baking from miles around. Kids at any age are fed like royalty at Masas, where they even offer mashed vegetables for really little ones. Older toque-wearing family members may want to hang at Bottoms and hit The Club at the Delta on the weekends.

winter-festival-of-wine-Sun-PeaksThe typical ‘interior’ snow is light and fluffy, and romance abound as you pass through a covered bridge and take a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the resort.  The terrain is very well-balanced and yet there are green runs off each main lift. Morriseys pub and Masas have great patios for the many days when the sun is shining.

Stay: The Delta
Eat: Mountain High Pizza
Apres: Masas
Do: Winter Festival of Wine
Relax: Sun Peaks Spa

Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Blackcomb ViewsWith the look of the alps and a bar scene to rival Aspen, Whistler is a well-established, exciting mountain. The Peak 2 Peak gondola joins the two mountains giving you even more ways to structure your day. I have been to the hill with and without kids and I honestly can’t say which I prefer. When kids and dogs are in tow, the apres at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is incredible. The hotel offers sleds so the kids can toboggan on the hill behind the hotel while adult rest their feet while having a fancy cocktail on the heated outdoor patio. The Four Seasons treats their mini guests to inexpensive gourmet treats and during special occasions will organize activities like magicians and fire dancers. The ski schools at both Blackcomb and Whitsler have the Flaik system so you can track your child’s route at the end of the day. On each hill there is a kids’ snow place – the tree fort or the castle – which delight the little ones.  Between full days on the slopes, swimming at the hotels and a few inevitable snowball fights.. my kids always sleep very well at Whistler.

Without kids, Whistler becomes a different beast. Bouncers at the door may have you on the guest list for Dub-Step night at Maxx Fish and you will have to make a tough decision at the Bearfoot Bistro about whether to sabre champagne or don warm coats in the icy cold vodka room. Fresh tracks can be had if you book a breakfast at the top of the mountain if you’re able to skip the clubs and get to bed early.

Olympic Rings on Whistler MountainBiathalon at Whistler Olympic ParkWebsite:
Stay: Four Seasons Resort
Eat: Barefoot Bistro
Apres: Garibaldi Lift Company (Whistler) / Merlins (Blackcomb)
Do: Try your hand at Cross Country skiing and biathalon at Whistler Olympic Park
Relax: Scandanave Spa
Nightlife: Buffalo Bills

Chateau Fairmont Whistler

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Canada, ROAM By February 9, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 5 Comments

I have a bit of a thing about castles.  Princess complex?  Perhaps…  but there is nothing quite like skiing down Blackcomb mountain as the Fairmont Chateau Whistler comes into sight.  All week before we departed for Whistler Blackcomb the kids announced to every person they saw that we were staying at a castle.  And it was.  And I felt like a princess in a resplendent building while the whole family – kids especially – were treated with boundless respect.

Picture it.  A gentle snowfall and sparkly white lights on the trees.  We pull up the majestic circular driveway and the valets are waiting.  They were so friendly that we couldn’t get the kids out of the car – there were very serious discussions happening around Star Wars Lego.  The kids are ecstatic.  They have a thing about riding on the luggage carts and giggling as I remind them that they are not suitcases.  Maybe when they grow up.

Checking in we were given reusable bags that say ‘I’m a Fairmont Kid!’ .  The treats inside not only occupied the boys, but the colouring book was all about bears and provided a fabulous learning opportunity as well.  (Thankfully I didn’t run into a bear as I hiked Spanky’s Ladder.)

There is something old-world and artistic about Fairmont properties.  I have stayed at at least 8, and in my view, they are cutting-edge in terms of being kid-friendly.  Normally the term means tacky plastic stuff and flashing lights.  Looking around, there is art everywhere – stone valise sculptures, intricate and modern floral arrangements, architectural flourishes and iron crows on the banisters.  The kids were chirping at them.  Yes, every time we walked by.

If this were a book, I’d do a whole chapter on the concierges.  If their smiles and jaunty ski sweaters weren’t enough I have decided that they are the demi-Gods of helpfulness.  Ian especially.  My hero.  He charges my Blackberry (often) and when my colleague lost his corporate visa card (it wasn’t me honest), Ian called every place this man had been the night before.  He then phoned Visa to cancel it.  Demi Gods.  I told you.

One of my favourite things about the rooms were the preppy cableknit blankets on the beds.  The fridge in the room is kept empty – a great help to parents who bring along snacks.  Kid-friendly extends to rooms as well.  I had no idea that if parents want a connecting room for the kids, the second room is half price.  The tiny bathrobes were certainly a highlight for the boys.  They breezed through the lobby en route to the hottub and were excited to find a little warming hut to hang them in order to ensure they remain dry.  Oh – and while you’re in the spa, ask for Wilma.  She offers private swimming lessons for adults and little ones.  So they’ll soon be able to ski AND swim circles around you.  Great.  (If you opt for free-floating the Fairmont supplies lifejackets too).

Whistler has cache.  But there is only one bar in the entire place that exudes the alpine mystique.  The Mallard Lounge.  A semi-circle bar, sledding for kids on the hill in back (they provide sleds), live music, domed ceilings, classic cocktails…  And kids are allowed (even at the bar) until 9pm.  Bartender extraordinaire Adam loves to serve kids Egyptian Lemonade – muddled with mint and raspberries.  A sparkling apple drink is served in a martini glass.  See? Kids are sophisticated too.  And the Chateau knows it.

They’re pretty cool with pets as well.  Dogs are part of the family, after all.  Jennifer Tice, the Public Relations Manager, showed me a picture of 2 puppies that she snapped with her iPhone.  She explained that these ‘hotel guests’ make so many people smile as they trot throughout the lobby, and the dogs assist in bringing people together and creating a social atmosphere throughout the hotel.  They have that down.  Sitting areas, tables, and sofas.  The lobby was always buzzing with activity and a great vibe.

I had the honour to visit the Wildflower Restaurant on 2 occasions.  Chef Vincent Stufano not only creates incredible dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients, but also features a ‘lifestyle cuisine plus’ menu with options in the following categories: heart healthy, diabetes, vegan, raw, macrobiotic, and gluten free. Double wow.  The restaurant also has a ‘sea to sky menu to go’.  For the road.  Just don’t get pulled over like we did on the way up. (Hopefully your lox and bagel doesn’t give energy to your accelerator foot..)

Dinner was amazing.  It was just adults (thank you Nannies on Call).  Before we dined I ordered room service for the kids their meals come with drink and dessert. Not only is there a kids’ menu, but when I asked for milk, They questioned: “plain, chocolate or strawberry?”  Seriously?  Then I learned that in December Fairmont created a new healthy eating menu just for the kids!

“Fairmont Chefs ensure these pint-sized offerings reflect the same basic principals as Lifestyle Cuisine and address the nutritional guidelines established for children by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.  Proactive steps include swapping out refined flour for whole wheat, incorporating fruits and vegetables into recipes to help meet the recommended daily fiber allowance, and employing alternative cooking methods to help ensure healthier choices are made available to young diners. “

On our final morning I took the boys to the Wildflower for breakfast.  Kids eat free.  Wow.  And when they entered?  They were each given an etch-a-sketch.  Our waiter told them it was an old-fashioned iPad.  I laughed hard.  (The boys looked at me with puzzlement as they touched the screen).  As we left each child was given a cookie as big as my head.  ‘for the road’.

In all?  I have a new go-to place when I ski.  After my weekend, the family is closer, the kids feel special, we made a ton of memories, and Ian the concierge is my new best friend.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Family Fun in Whistler

Disclosure:  UrbanMommies was provided accomodation at the Chateau in order to write this piece, and as always all opinions are our own.


Nita Lake Lodge

Canada, ROAM By February 22, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

They had me at the Land Rover shuttle.  Or was it the lobby?  Geothermal heating?  Or the live music during apres-ski?  Any of the above.  Nita Lake Lodge is among my favourite boutique hotels in the world.  And it’s only 68 minutes from Vancouver (not that I’m speeding).  Gourmet dining, windows galore and 72 environmentally-friendly suites with streamlined decor and beautiful views.


Scandinave Spa Whistler

Uncategorized By December 29, 2010 Tags: , , , , , , 3 Comments

You’re at Whistler.  It’s a powder day.  And you just did West Cirque.  Does it get any better than this?  Yup.  Head a few blocks north of the village to the Scandinave Spa Whistler, and prepare to find peace.  Hike up the gravel path through a Tofino-like forest. (Don’t worry if you’re not relaxed yet.  It will come).  Light blue signs seem zen-like against the bright green trees, and running water stimulates you to breathe deeply.  (And make you need a ladies room, but the ambiance continues there too).


The Adara Hotel, Whistler

ROAM, USA By November 4, 2010 Tags: , , No Comments

There’s something about a loft bedroom that brings out the kid in even the most mature.  And for actual kids?  Up, down, up, down.  And then sound asleep.  Nice.  Whistler’s Adara Hotel boasts many loft rooms and funky decor.  It’s also pet-friendly and centrally located.  (Being right across the street from the Bearfoot Bistro is also a huge plus..)  We loved the red, brown, leather and wood style in every area of the Adara.  The lobby’s rundlestone walls, shiny red vinyl sofas and wine bar made for a contemporary and stylish atmosphere.  (The music was so funky I wish I could have bought the playlist.)  With wireless access, super-soft linens, furry bedspreads and valet service, it might just be the next place for a Mommy Retreat.